Environmental destruction has forced wildlife closer to villages throughout Sumatra, with one province finding itself face to face with bears.
The Jambi province is found along the eastern coast of Central Sumatra and is [considered one of the archipelago’s most stunning regions] (http://news.detik.com/berita/d-3308313/menteri-siti-hutan-di-jambi-sangat-bagus-dibanding-di-daerah-lain) by Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya.
But, the interests of business is threatening sustainability in the region. Data obtained by Tempo shows Jambi lost around 189,125 hectares of forest between 2012 and 2016 due to deforestation and degradation, mainly caused by illegal gold mines.
The degradation has caused an increase in natural disasters, particularly landslides, as well as disruption to the ecosystem with the destruction of the natural habitat of wild animals.
Bears, which once called the forests nearby Jambi home, have been forced into residential areas following deforestation.
On Friday, May 5, a local group prayer, known as pengajian, in Jambi was forced to finish early after two bears entered the Pamenang village. Ibrahim, a 30-year-old local, said the group heard a scratching sound on the outside wall while reciting evening prayer. The two bears were discovered after two brave attendees ventured out. Other villagers reported the incident to police who searched for the bears.
The land on which Pamenang is now located was once natural forest.
Conflict between humans and bears in the area is common. Last month, rubber farmers Basri, 42, and Sakrun, 35, were forced to fend off a group of bears while searching for logs to build a hut. The pair came across a bear cub trapped in a boar trap and were attacked by three adult bears when they moved closer.
One of the farmers swung an axe at the bears in self-defense, but the two were outnumbered. Both were taken to a nearby hospital with major injuries. Basri had part of his leg amputated due to the attack.
Incidents involving tigers and elephants have also been reported in Jambi due to deforestation and settlements encroaching on natural habitats.
Image credits: abc